A chorus of chrysanthemums perch along the top of the alter and platform at the top of the church. A plaque on top of the coffin reads "granddad" and another "Oliver", and Angie squeezes her eyes shut in justified (well, maybe not justified) anger. He wouldn't have liked it. His name is Pops; sometimes Popsicle.
Angie's Popsicle had milky breath on a Sunday morning after they had their weekly hot chocolate (with whipped cream, mini marshmallows and shavings of milk chocolate that only Angie's Pops could do exactly right). Pops was intelligent and funny, and never mean. He was never sad either. Not even when he spoke of the love of his life, her nana. Angie's Popsicle was a lot of lovely things; most importantly, her Pops.
Another thing he was, was a husband who loved and cherished his wife, for ever beyond her days. He couldn't find it in him to be sad anymore, he'd tell Angie, when he spoke of the death of his wife. At frist his heart had felt like it had been ripped out of his chest several times. Angie had said that it sounded very painful. But, her Popsicle would say, he had memories. The sight of chrysanthemums, his wife's favourite flower, for a while made him feel sick. But soon, he told Angie, he realised they gave him joy more than they did sadness. They would always be enough for their love to be painted as a smile on his lips. He also had Samantha, Angie's mummy, to look after. At first Pops's mummy looked after Samantha, for the first couple of weeks. Those weeks were torture for him, but soon enough, if not straight away, he needed Angie's mummy back.
He spoke of sunsets and chrysanthemums, and a bird that tapped and tapped. There was no other thing that could soothe Angie like Pops's voice.
A more than familiar melody lingers for a mere moment before Angie grins at the realisation of the song, and it danced through the air around her. it was the song Angie's Pops and nana had shared their first dance to. This version, though, was his. Pops's favourite hobby.
Everyone who knew Angie's Pops also knew his talent. Even friends of friends of Pops's knew. He was a modest man. "Modest, but bloomin' crazy talented", Pops's best friend, Marvin often said at family events when Pops had left the room and Marvin knew he was safe to sing his praises without Pops looking down in embarrassment and shaking the comment off with a change of conversation.
Angie's Pops had sat down one quiet Saturday afternoon, set up an old but healthy recorder and let his fingers glide over the ivory keys. Only once did he have to record it to get the perfect version. He stopped the recorder but carried on playing it on the keys all afternoon. Only a few knew of the recording: Angie, Angie's mummy and Marvin, and they all agreed to keep quiet about it being Angie's Pops playing the keys. If people would ask after (as they did), they would nod discreetly. Pops wouldn't be offended if people knew, and they knew he'd be delighted at it being played at the funeral, but they would play tribute to his modesty. Even if Angie wanted to shout if from the rooftops.
People cried through the whole service, and afterwards too. Angie didn't cry. She couldn.t She wouldn't. She had memories, after all.
The first part of this story: The Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemums & Birds,
The Girl in the Moonlight.